Cape Breton Island: Wikis


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Cape Breton
Cape Breton Island.png
Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada
Cape Breton Island is located in Nova Scotia
Cape Breton Island (Nova Scotia)
Location Atlantic Ocean
Coordinates 46°10′N 60°45′W / 46.167°N 60.75°W / 46.167; -60.75
Area 10,311 km2 (3,981 sq mi) (77th)
Highest point White Hill (532 m (1,745 ft))
Province  Nova Scotia
Largest city Sydney
Population 147,454 (as of 2001)
Density 14.30 /km2 (37.0 /sq mi)
NASA landsat photo of Cape Breton Island

Cape Breton Island (French: île du Cap-Breton—formerly île Royale, Scottish Gaelic: Eilean Cheap Breatuinn, Míkmaq: Únamakika, simply: Cape Breton) is an island on the Atlantic coast of North America. It likely corresponds to the French word "Breton", referring to Brittany.

Cape Breton Island is part of the province of Nova Scotia, Canada. Although physically separated from the Nova Scotia peninsula by the Strait of Canso, it is artificially connected to mainland Nova Scotia by the Canso Causeway. The island is located east-northeast of the mainland with its northern and western coasts fronting on the Gulf of Saint Lawrence; its western coast also forming the eastern limits of the Northumberland Strait. The eastern and southern coasts front the Atlantic Ocean; its eastern coast also forming the western limits of the Cabot Strait. Its landmass slopes upward from south to north, culminating in the highlands of its northern cape. One of the world's largest salt water lakes (Bras d'Or--"Arm of Gold" in French), dominates the centre of the island.

The island is divided into four of Nova Scotia's eighteen counties: Cape Breton, Inverness, Richmond, and Victoria. Their total population as of the 2001 census numbered 147,454 "Cape Bretoners"; this is approximately 16% of the provincial population. Cape Breton Island has experienced a decline in population of approximately 6.8% since the previous census in 1996. Approximately 72% of the island's population is located in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM) which includes all of Cape Breton County and is often referred to as Industrial Cape Breton, given the history of coal mining and steel manufacturing in this area.

The island contains five reserves of the Mi'kmaq Nation, these being: Eskasoni, Membertou, Wagmatcook, We'kopaq/Waycobah, and Potlotek/Chapel Island. Eskasoni is the largest in both population and land area.



Cabot's Landing, Victoria County, commemorating the "first land seen" by explorer John Cabot in 1497
Cape breton island 1.jpg
A bulk carrier in the Strait of Canso docked at the Martin Marietta Materials quarry located at Cape Porcupine.
Smelt Brook on the northern shore.
Entering Cape Breton Island from Canso Causeway.

Cape Breton Island's first residents were likely Maritime Archaic natives, ancestors of the Mi'kmaq, the latter of whom inhabited the island at the time of European discovery. Giovanni Caboto (John Cabot) reportedly visited the island in 1497 to become the first[citation needed] Renaissance European explorer to visit present-day Canada. However, historians are unclear as to whether Cabot first visited Newfoundland or Cape Breton Island. This discovery is commemorated by Cape Breton's Cabot Trail, and by Cabot's Landing Historic Site & Provincial Park, located near the village of Dingwall.

A fishing colony was established on the island about 1521–22 by the Portuguese under João Álvares Fagundes. As many as 200 settlers lived in the nameless village in what is now present day Ingonish (location according to some historians) on the island's northwestern peninsula. The fate of the colony is unknown, but it is mentioned as late as 1570.[1]

On February 8, 1631, Charles I granted Cape Breton Island to Robert Gordon of Lochinvar and his son Robert.

Known as "Île Royale" to the French, the island also saw active settlement by France as part of the colony of Acadia. After the French ceded its colonies on Newfoundland and the Acadian mainland to the British by the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, the French relocated the population of Plaisance, Newfoundland to Île Royale and the French garrison was established in the central eastern part at Ste. Anne. As the harbour at Ste. Anne experienced icing problems, it was decided to construct a much larger fortification at Louisbourg to improve defences at the entrance to the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and defend France's fishing fleet on the Grand Banks[2]. The French also built the Louisbourg Lighthouse in 1734, the first lighthouse in Canada and one of the first in North America. In addition to Cape Breton Island, the French colony of Île Royale also included Île St.-Jean (today called Prince Edward Island). Louisbourg itself was one of the most important commercial and military centres in New France. Although Louisbourg was captured by New Englanders with British naval assistance in 1745 [3] and by the British again in 1758, Île Royale remained formally part of colonial France until it was ceded to Britain under the Treaty of Paris in 1763. Britain merged the island with its adjacent colony of Nova Scotia (present day peninsular Nova Scotia and New Brunswick).

Some of the first British-sanctioned settlers to the island following the Seven Years' War were Irish, although upon settlement, they merged with local French communities to form a culture rich in both music and tradition. From 1763 to 1784 the island was administratively part of the colony of Nova Scotia and governed from Halifax.

The first permanently settled Scottish community on Cape Breton Island was Judique, settled in 1775 by Michael Mor MacDonald. He spent his first winter using his upside-down boat for shelter, which is reflected in the architecture of the village's Community Centre. He composed a song about the area called "O's alainn an t-aite", or "Fair is the Place."

In 1784, Britain split the colony of Nova Scotia into three separate colonies: New Brunswick, Cape Breton Island, and present-day peninsular Nova Scotia, in addition to the adjacent colonies of St. John's Island (renamed Prince Edward Island in 1798) and Newfoundland. The colony of Cape Breton Island had its capital at Sydney on its namesake harbour fronting on Spanish Bay and the Cabot Strait. Its first Lieutenant-Governor was Joseph Frederick Wallet DesBarres (1784–1787) and his successor was William Macarmick (1787). From 1799 to 1807 the military commandant was John Despard, brother of Edward.[4]

An order forbidding the granting of land in Cape Breton, issued in 1763, was removed in 1784. The mineral rights to the island were given over to the Crown by an order-in-council. The British government had intended that the Crown take over the operation of the mines when Cape Breton was made a colony, but this was never done, probably because of the rehabilitation cost of the mines. The mines were in a neglected state, caused by careless operations dating back at least to the time of the final fall of Louisbourg.

Large scale shipbuilding began in the 1790s, beginning with schooners for local trade moving in the 1820s to larger brigs and brigantines, mostly built for British shipowners. Shipbuilding peaked in the 1850s, marked in 1851 by the full rigged ship Lord Clarendon, the largest wooden ship ever built in Cape Breton.

In 1820, the colony of Cape Breton Island was merged for the second time with Nova Scotia. This development is one of the factors which led to large-scale industrial development in the Sydney Coal Field of eastern Cape Breton County (see Industrial Cape Breton). By the late 19th century, as a result of the faster shipping, expanding fishery and industrialization of the island, exchanges of people between the island of Newfoundland and Cape Breton increased beginning a cultural exchange that continues to this day.

During the first half of the 19th century, Cape Breton Island experienced an influx of Highland Scots numbering approximately 50,000 as a result of the Highland Clearances. Today, the descendants of the Highland Scots dominate Cape Breton Island's culture, particularly in rural communities. To this day Gaelic is still the first language of a number of elderly Cape Bretoners. A campaign of violence and intimidation by the provincial school board led to the near extermination of Gaelic culture. The growing influence of English-dominated media from outside the Scottish communities saw the use of this language erode quickly during the 20th century. Many of the Scots who immigrated there were either Roman Catholics or Presbyterians, which can be seen in a number of island landmarks and place names.

The 1920s were some of the most violent times in Cape Breton. They were marked by several severe labour disputes. The famous murder of William Davis by strike breakers, and the seizing of the New Waterford power plant by striking miners led to a major union sentiment that persists to this day in some circles. William Davis Miners' Memorial Day is celebrated in coal mining towns to commemorate the deaths of miners at the hands of the coal companies.

Promotions for tourism beginning in the 1950s recognized the importance of the Scottish culture to the province, and the provincial government started encouraging the use of Gaelic once again. The establishment of funding for the Gaelic College of Celtic Arts and Crafts and formal Gaelic language courses in public schools are intended to address the near-loss of this culture to English assimilation.

The turn of the 20th century saw Cape Breton Island at the forefront of scientific achievement with the now-famous activities launched by inventors Alexander Graham Bell and Guglielmo Marconi.

Following his successful invention of the telephone and being relatively wealthy, Bell acquired land near Baddeck in 1885, largely due to surroundings reminiscent of his early years in Scotland. He established a summer estate complete with research laboratories, working with deaf people—including Helen Keller—and continued to invent. Baddeck would be the site of his experiments with hydrofoil technologies as well as the Aerial Experiment Association, financed by his wife, which saw the first powered flight in the British Empire when the AEA Silver Dart took off from the ice-covered waters of Bras d'Or Lake. Bell also built the forerunner to the iron lung and he experimented with breeding sheep.

Marconi's contributions to Cape Breton Island were somewhat less than Bell's as he merely used the island's geography to his advantage in transmitting the first North American trans-Atlantic radio message from a station constructed at Table Head in Glace Bay to a receiving station at Poldhu in Cornwall, England.


The Sydney waterfront, focal point of the largest population centre on Cape Breton Island.

The island measures 10,311 square kilometres (3,981 sq mi) in area, making it the 75th largest island in the world and Canada's 18th largest island. Cape Breton Island is composed mainly of rocky shores, rolling farmland, glacial valleys, barren headlands, mountains, woods and plateaus. Geological evidence suggests that at least part of the island was originally joined with present-day Scotland and Norway, now separated by millions of years of continental drift.

The northern portion of Cape Breton Island is dominated by the Cape Breton Highlands, commonly shortened to simply the "Highlands", which are an extension of the Appalachian mountain chain. The Highlands comprise the northern portions of Inverness and Victoria counties. In 1936 the federal government established the Cape Breton Highlands National Park covering 949 km2 (366 sq mi) across the northern third of the Highlands. The Cabot Trail scenic highway also encircles the coastal perimeter of the plateau.

Cape Breton Island's hydrological features include the Bras d'Or Lake system, a salt-water fjord at the heart of the island, and freshwater features including Lake Ainslie, the Margaree River system, and the Mira River. Innumerable smaller rivers and streams drain into the Bras d'Or Lake estuary and onto the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Atlantic coasts.

Cape Breton Island is joined to the mainland by the Canso Causeway, which was completed in 1955, enabling direct road and rail traffic to and from the island, but requiring marine traffic to pass through the Canso Canal at the eastern end of the causeway.

Cape Breton Island is divided into four counties: Cape Breton, Inverness, Richmond, and Victoria.


The island's residents can be grouped into five main cultures; Scottish, Mi'kmaq, Acadian, Irish, and English, with respective languages Gaelic, Mi'kmaq, French, and English. English is now the primary spoken language, though Mi'kmaq, Gaelic and French are still heard.

Later migrations of Black Loyalists, Italians, and Eastern Europeans mostly settled in the eastern part of the island around the Industrial Cape Breton region. The population of Cape Breton Island has been in decline for almost two decades with an increasing population exodus in recent years due to economic conditions.

According to the Census of Canada, the population of Cape Breton Island in 2001 was 147,454, a 6.8% decline from 158,260 in 1996.

Ethnic composition

Religious groups

Statistics Canada in 2001 reported a "religion" total of 107,880 for Cape Breton, including 3,915 with "no religious affiliation."[5] Major categories included:

Synagogues in Sydney and Glace Bay serve a small historic Jewish community (which was once one of the larger ones in eastern Canada) while more recent Muslim immigrants hold Friday prayers at Cape Breton University. Buddhists are a tiny minority (70 in 2001, according to Statistics Canada), although Gampo Abbey in Pleasant Bay has been operational since 1984.


Cape Breton Island's most recent cultural flag, the "Eagle" flag (1997)this flag is not used all that often if at all. What is normally seen is the flag with green on both ends with a golden circle that reads "Cape Breton Island, Canada" with the island in the middle and a green 'X' behind in the background.
Cape Breton Island's second cultural flag, the "Tartan" flag (early 1990s)
Cape Breton Island's first cultural flag, the blue-and-yellow flag dates to the 1940s

Cape Breton Island has two major coal deposits: the Sydney Coal Field in the southeastern part of the island along the Atlantic Ocean drove the Industrial Cape Breton economy throughout the 19th and 20th centuries—until after World War II its industries were the largest private employers in Canada; the Inverness Coal Field in the western part of the island along the Gulf of St. Lawrence is significantly smaller but hosted several mines.

Sydney has traditionally been the main port, with various facilities in a large, sheltered, natural harbour. It is the island's largest commercial centre and home to the Island's daily newspaper, the Cape Breton Post, as well as its only active television studio, CJCB-TV, and several radio stations. The Marine Atlantic terminal at North Sydney is the terminal for large ferries travelling to Channel–Port aux Basques and seasonally to Argentia on the island of Newfoundland.

Point Edward on the west side of Sydney Harbour is the location of Sydport, a former navy base (HMCS Protector) now converted to commercial use. The Canadian Coast Guard College is located nearby at Westmount. Petroleum, bulk coal, and cruise ship facilities are also located in Sydney Harbour.

Glace Bay is the second largest urban community in population and was the island's main coal mining centre until its last mine ceased operation in the 1980s. Glace Bay served as the hub of the Sydney & Louisburg Railway and also as a major fishing port. At one time, Glace Bay was known as the largest town in Nova Scotia, based on population.

Port Hawkesbury has risen to prominence since the completion of the Canso Causeway and Canso Canal created an artificial deep-water port, allowing extensive petrochemical, pulp and paper, and gypsum handling facilities to be established. The Strait of Canso is completely navigable to Seawaymax vessels, and Port Hawkesbury is open to the deepest-draught vessels on the world's oceans. Large marine vessels may also enter Bras d'Or Lake through the Great Bras d'Or channel whereas small craft have the additional use of the Little Bras d'Or channel or St. Peters Canal. The St. Peters Canal is no longer used by commercial shipping on Cape Breton Island but is an important waterway for recreational vessels.

The industrial Cape Breton area faced several challenges with the closure of the Cape Breton Development Corporation's (DEVCO) coal mines and the Sydney Steel Corporation's (SYSCO) steel mill. In recent years the Island's residents have been attempting to diversify the area economy by investing in tourism developments, call centres, and small businesses, as well as manufacturing ventures in such fields as auto parts, pharmaceuticals, and window glazings.

While the Cape Breton Regional Municipality is in transition from an industrial to a service-based economy, the rest of Cape Breton Island outside of the industrial area surrounding Sydney-Glace Bay has been more stable, with a mixture of fishing, forestry, small-scale agriculture, and tourism.

Tourism in particular has grown throughout the post-Second World War era, especially the growth in vehicle-based touring, which was furthered by the creation of the Cabot Trail scenic drive. The scenery of the island is rivalled in northeastern North America only by Newfoundland and Cape Breton Island tourism marketing places a heavy emphasis on its Scottish Gaelic heritage through events such as the Celtic Colours Festival, held each October, as well as promotions through the Gaelic College of Celtic Arts and Crafts.

A popular attraction for tourists isn't on the land, but in the water—whales. Whale-watching cruises are operated by numerous vendors from Baddeck to Cheticamp. The most popular species of whale found in Cape Breton's waters is the Pilot whale.

The primary east-west road on the island is Highway 105, the Trans-Canada Highway, although Trunk 4 is also heavily used. Highway 125 is an important arterial route around Sydney Harbour in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. The Cabot Trail, circling the Cape Breton Highlands, and Trunk 19, along the western coast of the island, are important secondary roads. Railway connections between the port of Sydney to Canadian National Railway in Truro are maintained by the Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia Railway.

The Cabot Trail is a scenic road circuit around and over the Cape Breton Highlands with spectacular coastal vistas; over 400,000 visitors drive the Cabot Trail each summer and fall. Coupled with the Fortress of Louisbourg, it has driven the growth of the tourism industry on the island in recent decades. The Condé Nast travel guide has rated Cape Breton Island as one of the best island destinations in the world.

Traditional music

Cape Breton is well known for its traditional fiddle music, which was brought to North America by Scottish immigrants during the Highland Clearances. The traditional style has been well preserved in Cape Breton, and céilidhs have become a popular attraction for summer tourists. Inverness County in particular has a heavy concentration of musical activity, with regular performances in communities such as Mabou and Judique. Judique is recognized as 'Bhaile nam Fonn', (literally: Village of Tunes) or the 'Home of Celtic Music', featuring the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre. Performers who have received significant recognition outside of Cape Breton include Buddy MacMaster, Natalie MacMaster, Ashley MacIsaac, The Rankin Family, Aselin Debison, and the Barra MacNeils.

The Men of the Deeps are a male choral group of current and former miners from the industrial Cape Breton area.

Film and television

Notable people

The Arts


Politics and business


See also


  1. ^ de Souza, Francisco; Tratado das Ilhas Novas, 1570
  2. ^ Canadian Military Heritage; vol.1, Chapter 6: Soldiers of the Atlantic Seaboard, p103. Government of Canada, 2004-04-26
  3. ^ ibid., p112.
  4. ^ Despard, John; The Companion to British History, Routledge
  5. ^ Table from Statistics Canada (Nova Scotia Statistics Agency)
  6. ^ Joe Cormier, North American Traditions
  7. ^ Joe Cormier, The Midsummer Revels, January 23, 2001
  8. ^ Cronin, Ray (November 13, 2001), "Lifeworks: Modern times two in Cape Breton", Canadian Medical Association Journal 165 (10): 1362–1363, 

External links

Coordinates: 46°10′N 60°45′W / 46.167°N 60.75°W / 46.167; -60.75

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

View of Cabot Trail
View of Cabot Trail

Cape Breton Island [1] is the northernmost island in Nova Scotia.


Sydney - largest city on the island

Baddeck - summer resort area and convenient starting/finishing point for the Cabot Trail

Chéticamp - center of Acadian culture on the Cabot Trail

Louisbourg - one-time French colonial town best known for its reconstructed fortress


Cape Breton Island was a separate colony until 1820 when it was merged into Nova Scotia against its will. It is the only place in North America where Gaelic is still spoken, a legacy of the large immigration (about 50,000) from the highlands of Scotland in the first half of the 19th century. There are also pockets of French, remnants of the Acadian history described in the Longfellow epic poem "Evangeline", in towns such as Margaree and Chéticamp. There is a strong island identity and sense of community, which increasingly unifies the Mikmaq population of the island.

The island has consistently lost industrial investment and jobs in the past ten years. However, the closing of the coal and steel industry coupled with the presence of the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, which buffers the pristine northern half of the island from its more commercialized southern half, have no doubt contributed to the island's very positive ratings for ecological stewardship and spectacular scenery. An excellent reference site for the incredibly beautiful northern tip of Cape Breton can be found at the "Top of the Island" site. [2]

Get in

By car

The most common way to get into Cape Breton is by car via the Trans-Canada Highway (Hwy 104) at the Canso Causeway from mainland Nova Scotia. Cape Breton is approximately 10 driving hours from Boston, 12 from Hartford and 14 from New York City.

By bus

There is bus service offered by Acadian Lines [3].

Shuttle Service is provided between Halifax and Sydney and environs by several companies who travel at various times throughout the day. Excellent value.

By plane

Cape Breton Island is serviced by Sydney Airport. Most flights to and from Sydney go to Halifax and then to major destinations such as Toronto, Boston and Montreal.

Get around

Cape Breton is most accessible by car. The main road is the Trans-Canada highway (Hwy 105), which connects Sydney on the east coast with the causeway to the mainland on the west. You can rent a car in Sydney if necessary. Like any place, you see more if you get off the main road, and the Nova Scotia government has been helpful in this regard by creating a number of scenic drives. These include the:

  • Cabot Trail - Mountainous, windy and sometimes foggy, this drive alternates between hugging the ocean and crossing the rugged Cape Breton Highlands. Considered one of the top drives in North America, it should be considered more a destination than a drive for the variety of activities available around this 190 mile loop.
  • Fleur-de-Lis Trail - Covers the southern French-influenced part of the island.
  • Ceilidh Trail - Covers the western part the island with its strong Scottish influence.
  • Bras d'Or Lake Scenic Drive - follows the shoreline of Bras d'Or Lake.

Road maps and additional information on the island is readily available at any tourism information center (located at entry points and any major towns and cities) and a number of private operators offer trip planning services.

Cable Ferry
Cable Ferry

A more adventurous option to get around the island is to cycle. The roads tend to be narrow and windy, so prior experience is recommended. Bike rental and trip planning are available through Sea Spray Outdoor Adventures [4]

Hiking trails abound in Cape Breton Highlands National Park, and the above-mentioned Sea Spray Outdoor Adventures [5] offers guided hikes to little-known remote areas north of the national park.

Regardless of your mode of travel, watch out for moose on the roads.

There are many small cable ferries between the islands. They usually go every few minutes and charge $5.

Salty Bear Adventure Travel - [6]] An excellent alternative to renting a car, Salty Bear offers budget adventure tours around the Cabot Trail. Run by passionate travelers who aim to provide a true Cape Breton experience, their trips include roundtrip transportation, accommodation, guide with full commentary, guided hikes, National & Provincial Park access, ferry passes, wildlife encounters, BBQ's, bonfires! Discounted optional activities of kayaking, sailing, and whale watching!

Moose on the Cabot Trail
Moose on the Cabot Trail

Cape Breton is noted for its unique and vibrant traditional Scottish violin music incubated by its relative isolation over the years- so much so that music lovers from Scotland come here for a taste of their own past. Typically a duo of violin and piano play hearty dance music that can be seen at community halls throughout the island. The early-evening tourist-targeted concerts are well advertised; later at night you can find ones that draw the entire local community. Some of the most important musical centres are Judique, Margaree Valley and Chéticamp.

The island as a whole ranked second in the world in a National Geographic study of ecotourism, which was conducted in 2002 and 2003.

  • Cape Breton Highlands National Park. You need an entry permit at $7 a day per person (there are group and family discounts). The Cabot Trail runs through the national park. There are many short hiking trails starting along the Cabot Trail.

Scenery is a major reason to visit Cape Breton. Plan to stop along the many spectacular lookoffs on the Cabot Trail - this will lengthen your travel time between destinations. Since the Cabot Trail is more a destination than a drive, visitors seeking to truly experience this environmental masterpiece should plan on staying a minimum of two days in the villages around the Trail. A number of private operators offer trip planning services to assist visitors in taking advantage of the best attractions both on and off the Trail, some offering all-inclusive multi-day packages.

  • Fortress of Louisbourg, 259 Park Service Rd, Louisbourg, +1 902 733-2280, [7]. This is a reconstruction of the 18th century fortified French town whose presence plagued the British colonies of New England. Its busy harbor was once one of France's most signifiant economic and military assets in North America. If you enjoy the colonial restoration at Williamsburg in the United States, don't miss Louisbourg. 1 May-30 Jun, 9:30AM-5PM. 1 Jul-31 Aug, 9AM-5PM. 1 Sep-15 Oct, 9:30AM-5PM. Closed 1 Nov-3 Apr.
  • The Bras D'Or is a unique brackish lake with its own unique ecological characteristics, and some islands in that lake are sacred to the Mikmaq.
Bay St. Lawrence
Bay St. Lawrence
  • Bay St. Lawrence and Meat Cove. Two scenic fishing villages featuring whale tours, fresh seafood and unique accommodations along the rugged cliffs north of the Cabot trail. Turn north at Cape North.
  • Joe's Scarecrows at Cheticamp on the Cabot Trail. Scary gallery of scarecrows with halloween masks. Entrance is free, but they ask for a small donation.
  • Les Trois Pignons, 15584 Cabot Trail Highway, Cheticamp, +1 902 224-2612. Museum of Acadian culture based on collection of antiques started by Marguerite Gallant.
  • Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site of Canada, Chebucto Street (Route 205), Baddeck, [8]. Open 9AM-6PM (Jun 1-30), 8:30AM-6PM (1 Jul-15 Oct). Entrance $6.50.
Joes Scarecrows
Joes Scarecrows
  • Celtic Colors Festival [9]. Spanning hundreds of events across dozens of towns, the music options at Celtic Colors are not solely Celtic but include folk and some Acadian Zydeco (Acadeco) and jazz, and an increasing amount of world music.
  • Whale watching tour. There are boat tours along the coast from Cheticamp north and around to Englishtown. Sighting of whales is almost guaranteed, especially at the northern tip of the island. Tours takes two hours or more, and the scenery alone is worth the price. Oshan Whale Cruises [10] and Captain Cox's Whale Tour [11] operate at the northern tip of the island.
  • Biking the Cabot Trail. [12] Many people think that biking the Cabot Trail is the best way to see it. Featured in the September 07 issue of Bicycling magazine, as North America's Best Ride. Sea Spray Outdoor Adventures [13] will rent bikes, provide one-way shuttles if necessary and plan your itinerary to maximize cycling opportunities.
  • Hiking tours Lots of self-guided hiking in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Guided hikes to spactacularly remote areas north of the national park can be arranged with Sea Spray Outdoor Adventures [14].
  • Kayak tours Eagle North and Sea Spray [15]both offer guided kayak tours, in the large tranquil harbors at the top of the island as well as in the whale-rich Atlantic.
  • The Top Of The Island, (North and Northeast of Cape Breton Highlands National Park), [16]. The most spectacularly scenic region of Cape Breton, the region boasts a combination of historic, cultural and environmental activities. Featuring whale watching, guided hiking, cycling, and paddling tours, museums, artists' studios and galleries and seven miles of the most signicant beaches north of the Carolinas, the region is home to Cabot's Landing provincial park, the site of John Cabot's landing in 1497.  edit
  • Arts North, Cabot Trail at Cape North (Drive to the northern tip of the Cabot Trail. Arts North is 3 km southwest of Cape North Village), 902-383-2911, [17]. 9 A.M. - 7 P.M.. A retail gallery featuring the works of over two dozen juried Cape Breton resident artisans. Pottery, jewelery, weaving, quilts, wood, prints, basketry, canvas and other media are all displayed in an architechturally pleasing space. Of interest, the gallery ships purchases world wide for its customers.  edit


Many of the smaller communities have only a general store that sells groceries, sundries, acts as a post office, etc. These small general stores have a very limited selection of groceries - better to stop in a bigger centre like Baddeck or Cheticamp for groceries, although the Top of the Island area has two Co-Op grocery stores (somewhat smaller than the Co-Ops in Baddeck and Cheticamp)as well as a couple of independents that, taken together, do a reasonable job.

general store
general store
  • Floras, Point Cross, +1 902 224-3139, [18]. Handcrafts. Especially traditional Acadian rug-hooking made by locals. Demonstrations.
  • Local pottery and other juried Cape Breton Only crafts sold along the Cabot Trail at Arts North,[19] outside Cape North, at the northern tip of the Trail.
  • St. Ann's Artisans

St. Ann's, an area to the south of Ingonish along the Cabot Trail, has a large concentration of artisans who work and sell out of their shops. Leather, glass, woodworking, iron art, photography, pottery, pewter and sewing are all found, made by skilled artists, within an hour's drive north of Baddeck.

Smelt Brook Pottery Studio at the Top of the Island in Smelt Brook features two production potters. The studio is open to the public and is a popular rainy-day stop for family learning experiences.

Lobster and Crab plate at Rusty Anchor
Lobster and Crab plate at Rusty Anchor

Seafood, especially lobster, is the thing to eat on Cape Breton. The Aspy Bay oysters are also good. As mentioned in the "Buy" section, if you plan to save money by getting groceries, do so at larger centres such as Chéticamp and Baddeck. Small convenience stores tend to be more sparsely stocked than convenience stores you would find in cities.

  • Rusty Anchor, Pleasant Bay, +1 902 224-1313. Great seafood, fantastic seaside patio. If you are lucky you can spot a bald eagle hovering above you. Sandwiches $C10, special seafood plates $C20.
  • Cedar House, TCH 105m Boulebarderie Centre, at the Seal Island brige between Baddock and Sydney, +1 902 674-2929. Bakery and restaurant. Good seafood chowder at reasonable prices. Open 10AM-8PM, May-Oct.
  • Glenora Inn & Distillery [20], Route 19, Ceilidh Trail, Glenville, +1 800 839-0491. Breakfast 7AM-9AM, lunch 11AM-3PM, dinner 5PM-9:00PM. Nova Scotian, Scottish, and North American fare. Daily tours of North America's only single malt distillery 9AM-5PM, $6.
  • Nest (Patti Millet-owner), 11352 RT. 19, Mabou, 902 945 2414. 10-6. Nature themed shop featuring jewelry, gifts and home decor. Emphasis on artisan crafts. Local music CDs. All price points, kids welcome, bathroom always available.  edit


you can eat at mountain view and highland heart also in pleasant bay

Middle Head
Middle Head

A good number of Bed & Breakfasts and hostels are dotted throughout the island. A few examples follow:

  • Lingan Bayview A & B [21] +902 862 6127 or +1 866 231 0643 On the beautiful island of Cape Breton in Nova Scotia, Canada. Located 20 minutes from the city of Sydney, in the small fishing village of Lingan, this Bed and Breakfast offers spectacular views, morning and evening, from each room. A quiet, beautiful area just steps from the ocean, this is one of the top 5 places recommended for bird watching. Nearby attractions include Two Rivers Wildlife park, Fortress Louisburg, Miners Museum, and the scenic Cabot Trail.
  • The Inlet B&B, Dingwall [22]
  • Two Tittle Inn B&B, White Point [23]
  • Oakwood Manor B&B, Cape North
  • Seymour Harbour B&B, Neils Harbour,
  • Keltic Lodge [24], Middle Head Peninsula, Ingonish Beach, +1 800 565-0444. This resort and spa is on the spectacular Middle Head peninsula. There are views of the sea to both sides. Just behind the main lodge is the start of the hiking trail to the tip of Middle Head. Double room $190 in high season, $290 including 2 X gourmet dinner and breakfast. The dresscode is casual smart.
  • Glenora Inn & Distillery [25], Route 19, Ceilidh Trail, Glenville, +1 800 839-0491, email: Sleep at North America's only single malt distillery. Has restaurant and bar. Rooms from $120.
  • Silver Dart Lodge [26], 257 Shore Road, Baddeck, +1 902 295-2340. email: Open May-Oct. Rooms from $99-119.
  • Cabot Trail Hostel [27], Pleasant Bay, +1 902 224-1976. email: Bed $27/night, private room $59/night (XP $10/night), All prizes tax included. Clean establishment, friendly owners!
  • Castle Rock Country Inn, 39339 Cabot Trail, Ingonish, tel: +1 888 884-7625 (email: [28], Spacious, comfortable, non-smoking rooms with satellite TVs and queen-sized beds. Small licensed dining room and lounge with excellent food and Nova Scotian wines. Large patio in back has beautiful views of the bay - eagles and other wildlife can often be seen. Friendly hosts and cute-yet-inconspicuous pets. $89-$148. (Packages also available.)
  • Bear on the Lake Guest House // HI Cape Breton Island [29], 10705 HWY 105, Aberdeen (Between Whycocomagh and Baddeck), +1 902 756-2750. email: Dorm Rooms $25-$30 / Private Rooms with private lounge from $65-75. Features include: 10 minutes from the start of the Cabot Trail! Overlooking the Bras D'Or Lakes, patio, BBQ, firepit, free internet/ WiFi, linens, laundry facilities, tours of the Cabot Trail can be arranged!
  • The Water's Edge Inn, 22 Water Street, Baddeck, 1-902-295-3600, [30]. Spacious king, queen rooms with private baths. Balconies overlooking the lighthouse and the beautiful Bras d'Or lakes. Breakfast.  edit

Get out

If you want to do a bit of island-hopping Atlantic Canada-style, you can take one of two ferries from North Sydney to Newfoundland. The ferry to Port aux Basques on Newfoundland's south-west coast is the shorter of two and runs daily throughout the year. The ferry to Argentia is much longer (about 14 hours) and only runs in the summer, three times a week. Ferry services are provided by Marine Atlantic [31].

This is a usable article. It gives a good overview of the region, its sights, and how to get in, as well as links to the main destinations, whose articles are similarly well developed. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


Proper noun

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Cape Breton Island


Cape Breton Island

  1. An island on the Atlantic coast of Canada, part of the province of Nova Scotia.

Simple English

File:Cape Breton
Map of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Cape Breton Island (French: île du Cap-Breton - formely île Royale, Scottish Gaelic: Eilean Cheap Breatuinn, Míkmaq: Únamakika, simply: Cape Breton) is an island on the Atlantic coast of North America. It likely corresponds to the European word "Breton", referring to Brittany.

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Coordinates: 46°10′N 60°45′W

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